All this August, Jupiter and Saturn stay by Scorpius and Sagittarius at dusk.
Friday, August 2
• Shiny Vega passes closest to overhead round 11 p.m., relying on how far east or west you reside in your time zone. How carefully it misses your zenith will depend on how far north or south you’re. It passes proper via your zenith for those who’re at latitude 39° north (Washington DC, Cincinnati, Kansas Metropolis, Lake Tahoe). How carefully are you able to choose this simply by trying?
Deneb crosses its closest to the zenith nearly precisely two hours after Vega.
Saturday, August three
• The Huge Dipper hangs diagonally within the northwest after darkish. It is beginning to “scoop water,” which it is going to dump from on excessive to turn into “spring showers” within the evenings a half yr from now.
From the Dipper’s midpoint, look three fists to the precise to search out Polaris (not very shiny) glimmering due north as at all times.
Polaris is the handle-end of the Little Dipper. The one different elements of the Little Dipper which can be even modestly shiny are the 2 stars forming the outer finish of its bowl. On August evenings you will discover them to Polaris’s higher left (by a few fist and a half at arm’s size). They’re known as the Guardians of the Pole, since they circle round Polaris all through the night time and all year long.
Sunday, August four
• After dusk, Altair shines excessive within the southeast. Above Altair by a finger-width at arm’s size is little orange Tarazed.
A bit greater than a fist-width to Altair’s left or decrease left is little Delphinus, the Dolphin, leaping leftward.
Above the midpoint between Altair and Delphinus is even fainter, smaller Sagitta, the Arrow.
Monday, August 5
• The waxing crescent Moon hangs within the west-southwest as twilight fades. Search for Spica about 7° to its decrease left (for North America). A lot larger above the Moon is brighter Arcturus.
Tuesday, August 6
• Now spot Spica about 13° to the Moon’s decrease proper at nightfall, and brighter Arcturus a lot larger to the Moon’s higher proper.
Wednesday, August 7
• First-quarter Moon (precise at 1:31 p.m. EDT). This night the Moon shines in Libra, west (proper) of Jupiter and the top of Scorpius.
As twilight fades away, search for Beta Librae about 5° above the Moon and Alpha Lib a similiar distance to the Moon’s decrease proper (for North America). Each are about magnitude 2.5.
• Right this moment we cross the midpoint of astronomical summer time — midway from the June solstice to the September equinox — at 7:52 a.m. Jap Daylight Time (11:52 UT).
Thursday, August eight
The Moon accompanies Jupiter on the nights of August eighth and particularly ninth, with Antares trying on from beneath.
• The waxing Moon, simply previous first quarter, poses simply over the vertical row of stars that mark the top of Scorpius, as proven right here (for North America).
Friday, August 9
• The waxing gibbous Moon shines with Jupiter this night, as proven right here. Jupiter, 40 occasions bigger than the Moon, is 1,830 occasions farther away.
Jupiter’s personal 4 large moons, roughly related in precise dimension to ours, present as pinpoints in a small telescope or good binoculars; they’re lined up east and west of the planet. This night you will discover Europa to Jupiter’s east and Io, Callisto, and Ganymede to its west, counting outward. See the information to Jupiter’s moons all this month, good worldwide, within the August Sky & Telescope, web page 51.
Saturday, August 10
• The narrowing window for good Perseid viewing. The annual Perseid meteor bathe ought to peak late on the night time of August 12-13, however the waxing gibbous Moon will not set then till simply earlier than the start of daybreak. You may in all probability do higher a day earlier than that, on the morning of the 12th, when there’s about an hour of darkish sky between moonset and the start of daybreak (for North America). On the morning of the 11th — late tonight, in different phrases — we get two darkish hours earlier than daybreak, however the meteor charges will likely be decrease.
Need to turn into a greater astronomer? Study your means across the constellations. They’re the important thing to finding the whole lot fainter and deeper to hunt with binoculars or a telescope.
That is an outside nature pastime. For an easy-to-use constellation information masking the entire night sky, use the large month-to-month map within the middle of every difficulty of Sky & Telescope, the important information to astronomy.
The Pocket Sky Atlas plots 30,796 stars to magnitude 7.6, and a whole lot of telescopic galaxies, star clusters, and nebulae amongst them. Proven above is the Jumbo Version for simpler studying within the night time. Pattern chart.
When you get a telescope, to place it to good use you will want an in depth, large-scale sky atlas (set of charts). The essential commonplace is the Pocket Sky Atlas (in both the unique or Jumbo Version), which reveals stars to magnitude 7.6.
Subsequent up is the bigger and deeper Sky Atlas 2000.zero, plotting stars to magnitude eight.5; almost thrice as many. The following up, as soon as you realize your means round, are the even bigger Interstellarum atlas (stars to magnitude 9.5) and Uranometria 2000.zero (stars to magnitude 9.75). And skim methods to use sky charts with a telescope.
You may additionally need a good deep-sky guidebook, akin to Sue French’s Deep-Sky Wonders assortment (which incorporates its personal charts), Sky Atlas 2000.zero Companion by Robust and Sinnott, or the larger Night time Sky Observer’s Information by Kepple and Sanner.
Can a computerized telescope exchange charts? Not for inexperienced persons, I do not assume, and never on mounts and tripods which can be lower than top-quality mechanically (which means heavy and costly). And as Terence Dickinson and Alan Dyer say of their Yard Astronomer’s Information, “A full appreciation of the universe can not come with out growing the abilities to search out issues within the sky and understanding how the sky works. This information comes solely by spending time beneath the celebs with star maps in hand.”
This Week’s Planet Roundup
Initially of the week Mercury, nonetheless faint, is simply beginning to emerge above the horizon as dawn nears. (The visibility of faint factors in a shiny sky is exaggerated in these scenes.)
By week’s finish is considerably brighter and slightly larger — and consistent with Castor and Pollux.
Mercury is turning into seen in early daybreak, because it climbs up from the east-northeast horizon this week and brightens from magnitude +1.four to –zero.2. Use binoculars to search for it very low about 45 minutes earlier than dawn. It is decrease proper of twinklier Pollux and Castor, as proven right here.
Venus and Mars are out of sight within the glare of the Solar.
The non-Pink-Spot aspect of Jupiter, imaged on July 18th by Christopher Go. South right here is up. Observe the blue festoons within the Equatorial Zone, the intense marking at one among them, and the pronounced, common ripples within the south fringe of the intense North Tropical Zone.
Jupiter (magnitude –2.four, between the toes of Ophiuchus) is the white level glowing within the south as twilight fades. Jupiter begins getting decrease within the south-southwest quickly after darkish now. Orange Antares, a lot fainter at magnitude +1.zero, twinkles 7° to its decrease proper.
Jupiter and Antares kind a shallow isosceles triangle with Delta Scorpii (Dschubba) to their proper. Delta, a long-term eruptive variable of the Gamma Cassiopeiae sort, has been solely slightly fainter than Antares for many of the final 19 years — after it brightened by some 50%, with out warning, in July 2000.
In a telescope Jupiter is 42 arcseconds huge. See Bob King’s observing information to Jupiter.
Saturn on July 16th, imaged by Damian Peach with the 1-meter Chilescope in common seeing. South right here is up. “No notable spots or storms,” writes Peach. “The [north polar] hexagon is sick outlined at finest, although maybe due to the beneath par seeing.”
Saturn (magnitude +zero.2, in Sagittarius) is the regular, pale yellowish “star” within the south-southeast throughout and after nightfall, 31° left of Jupiter. Look to Saturn’s decrease proper for the Sagittarius Teapot.
Uranus (magnitude 5.eight, in Aries) is excessive within the southeast earlier than the start of daybreak.
Neptune (magnitude 7.eight, in Aquarius) is nicely up within the southeast by midnight and highest within the south earlier than the start of daybreak. Finder charts for Uranus and Neptune.
All descriptions that relate to your horizon — together with the phrases up, down, proper, and left — are written for the world’s mid-northern latitudes. Descriptions that additionally rely upon longitude (primarily Moon positions) are for North America.
Jap Daylight Time (EDT) is Common Time (UT, UTC, GMT, or Z time) minus four hours.
Audio sky tour. Out beneath the night sky along with your earbuds in place, hearken to Kelly Beatty’s month-to-month podcast tour of the heavens above. It is free.
“This journey is made attainable by generations of searchers strictly adhering to a easy algorithm. Check concepts by experiments and observations. Construct on these concepts that move the check. Reject those that fail. Observe the proof wherever it leads, and query the whole lot. Settle for these phrases, and the cosmos is yours.”
— Neil deGrasse Tyson, 2014